The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $8.7 billion to go to the Corps of Engineers civil works programs for FY22. The full House has already approved funding legislation that provides just slightly less (about $40 million), so the final total when differences between the two bills are resolved should be nearly $2 billion above the President’s request. The Senate committee notes that the expenditure on the Corps achieves a 12:1 BCR. Both bills contain earmarks, but each also leaves significant funding that will have to be allocated by the Corps in a Work Plan.
Here are the highlights of the Senate committee’s bill –
$2.050 billion for deep draft navigation based on the expenditure of increased Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund monies.
Local sponsors who elect to advance all the funds needed to construct a project will have to wait for reimbursement until after all construction is completed. Federal funds to reimburse them will be designated as “new starts” and will have to compete with other Corps construction projects in regular appropriations bills.
Investigations funding would stay the same as the current year ($153 million). While the Committee provided $9.5 million for studies not earmarked by the President or Congress, this is the first year that no part of those additional funds has been walled off for shore protection (the term Congress uses for beach nourishment). The Committee provided $11 million for Planning Assistance to States, $3 million more than President Biden requested, and reminded the Corps that coastal resilience is an appropriate use for this technical assistance program. The Committee also urged the Corps “to work with local governments to incorporate flexibility…that allows for incremental acquisition of easements necessary for scheduled nourishments.”
The Corps’ Construction account would receive $3.002 billion, roughly a 10 percent increase over the current fiscal year, with strong support for all of the Continuing Authorities Programs. $20 million of additional funding is provided for shore protection construction. The Committee nixed a $10 million administration request for what it called the Innovative Funding Partnerships Program which appeared too much to reward local sponsors for providing funds in excess of their cost-share
The Operation and Maintenance account would get $4.68 billion, over $1 billion more than the President requested for dredging and other navigation needs. Under this account, the Committee plussed-up the Corps’ Regional Sediment Management Program to $6.7 million, compared to the administration’s $100 million recommendation. It also urged the Corps “to provide states with guidance and recommendations to implement cost effective measures and planning for sand management. A new Engineering with Nature program would get $12.5 million.